Thursday, January 05, 2006

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

The Best of 2005: New York City’s Transit Workers

By Annette Bernhardt and Chitra Aiyar

Our vote for the best of 2005 is the New York City transport workers and their successful three-day strike last week.

In an era that is about as anti-union as you can get, more than 33,000 workers risked legal sanction, stood on freezing picket lines, and unequivocally stated their right to middle-class incomes, quality healthcare and pensions, and respect on the job.

Their action is an inspiring and much-needed antidote to the paralysis that we have allowed “globalization” to impose on us. Battered by years of outsourcing and stagnant wages, we slip into a fatalism that any worker is expendable, any firm can relocate, global competition is forcing a race to the bottom and there’s nothing we can do about it. Wal-Mart jobs have taken our imagination hostage – and so we acquiesce to the impossibility of demanding living wages and benefits.

But of course that's just not true, as the transit workers reminded us by walking off the job, having the courage to disrupt business as usual (with great dignity we should add), and then winning most of their demands.

It’s living proof of the power of organizing, and just as important, that there are plenty of industries where globalization does not in fact drive job quality.

Transit is just one example of an entirely local industry (and its workers made full use of that leverage). But think as well of nursing home workers, janitors, poultry processors, hotel workers, truckers, restaurant workers, security guards, child care workers, and even Wal-Mart cashiers. It’s not international competition that has driven down wages in these industries, it’s our own domestic policy decisions, from our failure to raise the minimum wage and enforce basic employment laws, to industry deregulation and the weakening of the right to organize.

Which means that there’s plenty of room for change, and we can make it happen both as workers and as voters.

In New York City, the most immediate place where we’ll see that change is in upcoming contract negotiations for hundreds of thousands of other public sector workers. For 25 years, no municipal union in the city has mounted a large-scale strike, not the teachers, police, paramedics, firemen, or day care workers, despite going years without a contract. That’s because New York State law makes it illegal for public sector employees to strike, removing the one true lever that workers have. Yet despite severe penalties (the union currently has $3 million in fines hanging over its head), the transport workers took a stand.

It was one of those rare moments when someone dared to cross a line we all assumed was inviolate, showing us, with almost unbearable courage, that justice and the law are not the same thing.

In substance, what triggered the strike was not a conflict over current wages and benefits, but rather MTA’s demand that future workers accept a lesser pension package. It was clearly a divide and conquer strategy meant to buy off the current workforce, but it lasted just about as long as it took union president Roger Toussaint to lay down first principles: "We will not sell out our unborn."

His refusal to abandon future workers will now be the standard for all of New York’s public sector unions. In an age in which immigrant workers are routinely vilified as stealing jobs and driving down wages, the transit workers, 70% of whom are immigrants and people of color, raised the floor for everyone. To us that’s the most inspiring lesson of all. Everyone understands that a house divided will doom the fight for working families, but it’s been agonizingly slow work to put that principle into action and build common cause between labor, immigrants and communities of color, in a way that expands our very conception of economic justice. Last week we got a peek at what such a world might look like.

Yes, the strike disrupted the city and cost businesses some of their holiday profits; but giving in to the MTA’s demands would have cost working families far more in the long run. And yes, escalating benefit costs are very real issues that both the public and private sector need to deal with; but knee-jerk solutions aren’t the way to address root systemic problems in how we provide for health care and retirement in this country.

In short, the transit fight was about the future of good jobs for all of us. And through the workers’ courage, we rediscovered core truths: nothing is inevitable, change is always possible, and giving in to powerlessness is the greatest enemy of all.

Which is just about the way to start off the new year that we can think of.

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

All Out for NYC's Transit Workers!

The Transit workers Union Executive Board
will be meeting at their Headquaters at 6:00PM
Today - Tuesday - in order to vote
on a proposed contract

We urge all who can to meet outside the TWU Headquarters
and show our support for the Transit Workers, their union
and it's leadership and their right to live and work
under a fair contract or as fair a contract
as is obtainable at this time.


Saturday, December 24, 2005

happy holidays.

Friday, December 23, 2005

public display of affection ...

It's About Respect...and Solidarity

The New York City Transit Strike:
It's About Respect...and Solidarity
by Michael Hirsch

The now three-day-old strike by New York's 34,000 bus and subway workers, crippling mass transit and estimated to have affected some 3.5 million daily commuters, is being played out in the media -- particularly television and radio outlets -- as a natural disaster. That's a pity, because the case could easily be made that the strike was forced on the workers, an outcome of venal public policy and inept state and city political leadership.

Hardy pedestrians crossing the Brooklyn Bridge in sub-freezing weather from their tony Brooklyn Heights and Cobble Hill enclaves are greeted by Mayor Michael Bloomberg as heroes, a reception even survivors of Hurricane Katrina did not get. Meanwhile the union is vilified as self-interested and threatened with extinction for breaking the state's anti-strike Taylor Law. New York's billionaire mayor decried how "the leadership of the TWU has thuggishly turned their backs on New York City" and joined the governor in slamming the union's "lawbreaking." Daily News columnist Michael Godwin chimed in that the brave new competitive world of the 21st Century requires that workers grow up and give up benefits.

It's ironic to hear the mayor, for one, bleating about the rule of law and how "no negotiations should proceed until this illegal, selfish strike ends." This is the same law-abiding civic leader who bragged in "Bloomberg on Bloomberg" (p. 59) that breaking the law was just part of his inspired path to riches.

"Among old McDonald's hamburger wrappings and mouse droppings," the former media giant bragged, "we dragged wires from our computers to the keyboards and screens we were putting in place, stuffed the cables through holes we drilled in other people's furniture -- all without permission, violating every fire law, building code, and union regulation on the books. It's amazing we didn't burn down some office or electrocute ourselves."

>From the union's standpoint, the mayor is an irritant, but it's the
state-run Metropolitan Transit Authority that brutishly opposes wage, benefit and pension improvements. In an 11th hour stroke, its bargainers even demanded pension givebacks. The union says its effort to storm heaven is also about winning respect. And it's about the future of organized labor in one of the nation's last union towns.

In remarks at a 3:00 a.m. news conference Dec. 20 announcing rejection of the MTA's final contract offer, Trinidadian-born Roger Toussaint, president of the once powerful and historically militant Transport Workers Union Local 100, described the strike as "a fight over whether hard work will be rewarded with a decent retirement....a fight over the erosion, or the eventual elimination, of health-benefit coverage for working people in New York." The former track worker and quondam opposition leader called it "a fight over dignity and respect on the job, a concept that is very alien to the MTA. Transit workers are tired of being underappreciated and disrespected."

He amplified these remarks in comments later in the day to NY1, the city's all-news cable station:

"The MTA and Mayor Bloomberg are pursuing their own agenda in these contract negotiations, and that agenda is to use the transit negotiations to establish a new inferior pension tier and then impose it on hundreds of thousands of municipal workers after forcing it on the transit workers. They are also attempting to impose inferior health standards on transit workers and then impose it on future generations of city employees. This is about a larger issue, a larger fight. Then they raised the new proposal that new hires pay 6% of their wages toward their pension. Right now transit workers pay 2% of their wages toward their pension. It is a 200% increase. Their intention is to run over the rest of the labor movement with that new pension element."

Labor observers widely agree that tossing in the pension issue at the 11th hour -- the brainchild of billionaire real estate mogul and MTA chair Peter Kalikow -- was a provocation. Kalikow was notorious for sitting out the authority's contentious 2003 negotiations with the union, which almost ended in a strike, and he seems to have effectively torpedoed this one, too.

Toussaint certainly saw it as incendiary. As he told NY1,"Were it not for the pension piece we would not be on strike." Of the city dailies, only The New York Times focused on how the fight over pensions was caused by an indelicate last minute intervention by the MTA head. And that notice was only featured in The Times Metro section and below the fold.

The respect angle is no exaggeration or appeal to industrial nostalgia. Both subway and bus work is dangerous, and track work alone is a prime cause of life-threatening pulmonary ailments. Yet after working a job where pay reaches a $53,000 ceiling in one of the most costly cities in the nation, more than one in three transit workers received some form of disciplinary reprimand in the past year, many serious: proving, depending on your point of view, that transit employees are either woefully bad workers or that management is pervasively punitive. Even critics of the strike consider that the authority's managerial style is capricious if not barbarous.

"Everybody treats us like crap all the time. We're tired of being treated like we're the garbage of the city," one transit worker told Newsday.

That lack of respect highlights a racial element to the dispute, too. With a majority of transit workers African American or Afro-Caribbean, the mayor's "thuggish" charge is being widely accepted as a racial codeword . It was one Rupert Murdoch's New York Post repeated, while also calling Toussaint" a "coward" (Dec. 20).

While it would be a mistake for strike supporters to take the race bait
-- this is a class fight and the city unions supporting the TWU know it
-- it is also inconceivable that the epithet "thug" would have been used against the still sizable white and largely female teachers union, or the predominantly white Patrolmen's Benevolent Association, both outspoken strike supporters.

Wages, while no longer a sticking issue at the bargaining table, are also a sore point. The starting salary for a track worker is $16.51 an hour, or $578 per week, before overtime, which with New York City prices and high taxes leaves disposable income uncomfortably close to the poverty line. These are, in short, not well-paid workers, and even the union's tacit acceptance of the MTA's final wage offer will not change that status. Another complication is that TWU International President Michael O'Brien, a political enemy of Toussaint's, is putting distance between the parent union and strikers. He has fiduciary as well as partisan reasons for doing so. Public employee strikes are illegal in New York State, and exorbitant fines are meant to be punitive if not preventive. Whether as Judas goat or fiscal Solomon, O'Brien wrote an open letter to Local 100 members recommending they "cease any and all strike or strike-related activities and ... report to work at their regularly assigned work hours and work locations....The only road to contract victory for the membership [is] not by strike but continued negotiation."

There is even a possibility at this writing that the TWU Local 100 leaders will be jailed for criminal contempt for breaking an injunction the city won last week, though MTA sources concede that jailing Toussaint could be a flashpoint, creating a martyr and prolonging the strike.

The union makes a good point -- using classic "an injury to one is an injury to all" logic -- that what they confront today will be in the face of every other municipal union tomorrow. So it is particularly galling that while New York City is flush in revenues, it is still governed by an austere fiscal ethic and a far-from-rational fear that the combination of defined pension plans and longer-lived retirees could bankrupt the city and the state. Yet the numbers don't compute. The NYC Independent Budget Office (IBO) projects an increased $2.2 billion in tax collections over June estimates. The bountiful increase, chiefly in property transfer, business, and personal income taxes, is complemented by snail's pace growth in city spending. Bloomberg has made the hallmark of his administration miserly spending measures, including small contract raises that often do not match increases in the cost-of-living. Even these small raises are tied to what is euphemistically called "productivity gains," meaning a shrunken workforce does more.

The IBO -- though it carefully excludes labor settlements because they are difficult to anticipate -- estimates spending by city agencies growing at less than 1 percent a year through 2009, the last year of Bloomberg's administration. It also concludes that recent settlements between the city and the teachers, police, sanitation, and other uniformed services unions fell below or did not exceed administration expectations.

What is extraordinary about this labor action is that a victory for the TWU means that other workers will be in a better position to resist take-backs, too. The union movement talks a good solidarity game. What the TWU is doing is walking the walk, too. Instead of greasing the skids for further concessions on health care and pensions, TWU is in a position to proactively help other workers win back benefits lost in the past. Is this a turning point for working people? It's hard to say. The labor movement has had more turning points than the Minotaur's maze, but Governor Pataki, Kalikow and Bloomberg may have painted themselves into a corner by forcing a strike. Even Henry Stern, a lapsed liberal who was Parks commissioner under both Ed Koch and Rudolph Giuliani, publicly questioned the wisdom of Kalikow's timing.

The real gun to the head of subway and bus workers, as it is to other public employees, is the anti-strike Taylor Law. Formally, the 1967 Public Employees-Fair Employment Act, and written after the 10-day TWU strike of 1966, it reads: "No public employee or employee organization shall engage in a strike, and no public employee or employee organization shall cause, instigate, encourage, or condone a strike." Under the statute the union stands to lose $1 million a day in fines.

While supposed to make both job actions by unions and unfair labor practices by employers obsolete, the statute actually functions to hamstring unions without at the same time forcing public sector employers to bargain in good faith. Because it contains so few sanctions on employers, the Taylor Law actually makes a strike more likely, not less, especially by workers sufficiently fed up, as the transit workers clearly are, to risk everything. Win or lose, the Taylor Law has to go
-- replaced by a state labor law that levels the playing field. Right now, the state's collective bargaining playing field looks more like a caged professional-wrestling ring, where the bouts are scripted even as the pain is real, and the bad guys are set up to win.

Speaking of bad guys, if there is one villain of the piece, it is Gov. George Pataki, the three term incumbent who on the eve of the strike was renewing Republican acquaintances in New Hampshire in preparation for a much bruited about presidential run. Appearing with union meat in his teeth would be invaluable in courting the Republican nomination.

His hand-picked MTA chair, Peter Kalikow, is not just a real estate tycoon and former New York Post owner but a Republican big stakes player and a former campaign treasurer for rightwing and oleaginous ex-Senator Al D'Amato. He also comes with a history, having gone through a bankruptcy in the early 1990s when he owed a dozen banks more than $1 billion against assets in the area of $500 million. Creditors got less than 20 cents on the dollar and former Post reporters still fume about the severance they never received. Kalikow, meanwhile, got to keep his Fifth Avenue duplex, his yacht and waterfront estate in Montauk. His chief aide at the real estate company, Richard Nasti, who was present at this year's negotiations, was allowed to plead no contest to a bogus, mob-linked circulation scheme while both were at the New York Post.

Nasti was also forced to resign from the MTA for influence peddling, but still works for Kalikow.

Writing in 2003 in the Downtown Express, veteran Post beat reporter Jerry Tallmer remembered how Kalikow "left behind a debt of $4.5 million to the government in unpaid (or unforwarded) withholding taxes, and a declaration of bankruptcy -- cooked up, I have always been convinced, with [Rupert] Murdoch. That bankruptcy ultimately enabled owner redux Murdoch to wipe out the paper's contract with the New York Newspaper Guild, force the Post unit into a strike, break the unit, and fire all 287 Guild members -- one of whom, chairperson Harry Leykis, a scrappy, ultra-loyal Post staffer for 25 years, died of a heart attack not long after. Harry, like all of us, had had many thousands of dollars in severance pay wiped out overnight, thanks to the corporate bankruptcy laws."

Before the strike, Kalikow told New York Magazine writer Craig Horowitz that "Making money is no longer paramount. 'I do this,' he says, 'because I want my legacy to be something other than money.'" Judging by his action in this strike, he won't be remembered for his money.

Michael Hirsch is a New York-based labor writer.

Thursday, December 22, 2005

MTA's Violating Taylor Law as Well

By Juan Gonzalez

Gov. Pataki and Mayor Bloomberg have vowed drastic penalties for the
striking members of the Transport Workers Union for violating the Taylor
Law. Yet the mayor and the governor have been completely silent about violations
of the same Taylor Law by their own appointed officials at the Metropolitan
Transportation Authority. The most well-known portion of the law, Section
210, states that "no public employee or employee organization shall engage
in a strike." That is not, however, the only provision of the law. Other
sections also provide protections to public employees. City union leaders
and state lawmakers keep trying to point that out. They say the MTA itself
trampled a key provision of the Taylor Law by demanding that TWU President
Roger Toussaint accept an inferior pension plan for future members of his
union as a condition of a new labor contract. Section 201 of the law
clearly states that "no such retirement benefits shall be negotiated
pursuant to this article, and any benefits so negotiated shall be void." Only
the Legislature has the legal authority to approve changes in public
employee pension systems. Not the MTA. Not the mayor. And not the governor
all by himself. That's the way it always has been. MTA officials have
claimed for several days that reforming the union's pension plan became
the main unresolved issue to a settlement. "That's what's known as an
impermissible subject of bargaining," said Assemblyman Richard Brodsky
(D-Westchester), who is chairman of the Assembly committee that oversees the
MTA. Sure, unions and public agencies sometimes agree, as part of an
overall labor settlement, to jointly petition the Legislature for pension
changes, but management can't simply force a union to accept a worse
retirement plan. "If the governor is going to be a tough guy about the
Taylor Law with the union, he should be tough as well on the law when it
comes to the MTA," Brodsky said yesterday. This crippling strike could be
over in hours if Pataki ordered the MTA to adhere to the same Taylor Law he
wants the union to respect. Toussaint said as much to a group of 40 city
labor leaders in a telephone conference around noon yesterday. He repeated
it a few hours later in a meeting with several dozen black political and
religious leaders and in a press conference later in the afternoon. His
plea is now being taken up by many leaders eager to bring labor peace back
to the city. Municipal union leaders, headed by teachers union chief Randi
Weingarten, urged the mayor and the governor to set aside the pension issue
for now. Meanwhile, several state legislators made the same pitch in Albany.
If there are reforms needed in public employee pensions, they say, they
should be negotiated with all the unions involved in the city's retirement
system, not by singling out the transit workers union as a test case. But
even before Toussaint spoke, Pataki delivered yet another blistering
criticism of the strikers. Worse, he tried to escalate the conflict by
urging no further contract talks until theunion returns to work. In two
previous illegal transit strikes during the past 50 years, union leaders and
public officials always kept negotiating until they reached a
settlement. Thankfully, MTA Chairman Peter Kalikow moved forward yesterday
with serious mediation efforts that continued late last night. Kalikow appears
to be the only top MTA official eager to reach a deal. His boss Pataki, on
the other hand, is eager to prove to the nation what a tough-guy President he
would make. In Toussaint and his 33,000 union members, he sees his ticket to fame. So
what if the public has to endure a few more days of a transit strike that
never should have happened in the first place? Who will listen to a bunch of
union members engaged in an illegal strike, the governor and the mayor seem
to think. We'll soon find out if they're right.

Five Myths, Five Facts and One Question

About the New York City Transit Strike

Myth: The members of Transit Workers Union, Local 100, who run the bus and subway systems in New York City, are "overpaid."
Fact: Newly hired workers start at $35,000 per year in gross (not take-home) pay. That's way less than it takes to support a family in New York City. With prices of everything rising, the union's demand for a 6% raise per year might keep up the increases in the cost of living.

Myth: The TWU is "greedy."
Fact: The union is defending the health care and pension benefits that already exist. The MTA was trying to cut benefits and raise the retirement age from 55 to 62. The MTA wants to force newly hired workers to accept pay cuts of 6% for the first ten years they work. Bus and subway jobs are tough and stressful, working under any and all weather conditions, with high rates of disabling injuries.

Myth: The MTA can't afford to give the workers a decent contract.
Fact: The MTA admits to having a $1 billion surplus, but it still wants the transit workers to accept a cut in benefits and a wage increase that won't keep up with inflation.

Myth: Governor Pataki and Mayor Bloomberg are looking out for the people, while the TWU workers are just out for themselves.
Fact: Pataki and Bloomberg represent big business, not working people. Bloomberg's theatrical walk across the Brooklyn Bridge shouldn't make anyone forget that he's a billionaire who lives in total luxury. He's got a lot of nerve calling TWU President Roger Toussaint and the union membership "cowardly." Roger Toussaint and the TWU members have taken a courageous stand risking huge fines and jail time to defend what all working people need and deserve: living wages and real benefits. Millions of workers have lost health care, pensions and seen their wages decline in recent years. The New York City transit workers are saying, "Enough is Enough!" The outcome of this strike is crucial for all workers, whether you're a union member or not. If a strong union like TWU Lo. 100 can't defend its benefits and wages, everyone else is in big trouble. All working people should support this strike.

Myth: The Taylor Law and the MTA are in the public interest.
Fact: The Taylor Law is a vicious anti-union law, meant to take away workers' most basic strength the right to withhold their labor. Denying workers the right to strike means giving the bosses tremendous power. It creates a completely unfair negotiation, and encourages the bosses to try to impose take-away contracts, as the MTA has done to the transit workers. The Taylor Law not only fines workers two days pay for every day on strike, but allows them to be fined $25,000 each. It also allows for the union to be bankrupted by fines of millions of dollars. The Taylor Law should be thrown out. The MTA is run by real estate and banking executives with the aim of maximizing the profits of the big corporations, banks and stores. MTA Chairman Peter Kalikow is president of one of the city's biggest real estate firms. His vice-chairs, David Mack and Edward Dunn are real estate and finance executives, respectively. For workers, and the general public, mass transit is a means of meeting basic needs. For big business, mass transit is a means of making profit. It brings their workers to work and their shoppers to shop. They should pay for mass transit and the buses and subways should be free.

Question: Why is that as the economy keeps growing and rich keep getting richer, working people are supposed to accept cutbacks in our wages, benefits and every government program? Isn't it time we all said, "Enough is Enough!" Click here for ANSWER updates and flyers on the transit workers' struggle <>

New information reveals:

Pataki, Bloomberg, and MTA President Deliberately Provoked Strike

Did you know that New York state Governor Pataki, New York City Mayor Bloomberg and MTA President Kalikow provoked the strike by throwing a "stick of dynamite" into the negotiations in the last few hours on Monday? By adding a dramatic demand at the last minute and without warning—a demand they knew the union could not accept—Pataki, Bloomberg and Kalikow made a strike inevitable . They wanted the strike. They want to blame the union, bankrupt the union, and destroy the possibility of decent pensions for transit workers. The MTA board is dominated by the banks and big business. The bankers and corporate America are engaged in a nationwide strategy to destroy pension plans. If they can do this to the transit workers, they feel they can do it to every workforce in New York City and around the country, unionized and non-unionized alike. With just hours to go before the second strike deadline on Monday, December 19, MTA President Kalikow upped the ante by adding a brand new demand on the workers: all new employees would be required to take a 4% wage cut by having to pay 6% of their wages to the pension fund. Even if the union would consider this drastic give-back concession, Pataki, Bloomberg and Kalikow knew full well that the union leadership would be incapable of agreeing to such a demand with only a few hours notice. Forced on strike, the TWU is now being fined $1 million per day, in an effort to bankrupt and destroy the local. They are now threatening to arrest Roger Toussaint, President of TWU Local 100, for violating the Taylor Act outlawing strikes for public service employees. The Taylor Act is a vicious piece of anti-labor legislation. If labor loses the right to strike, the right to withhold one's labor, then we are on the fast track backwards towards the 18th century where sweatshop labor was the rule, not the exception. According to the New York Times (Dec. 21), "Yet for all the rage and bluster [from Pataki and Bloomberg], this war [the strike] was declared over a pension proposal that would have saved the Transit Authority less than $20 million over the next three years. It seemed a small figure, considering that the city says every day of the strike will cost its businesses hundreds of billions of dollars in lost revenues." New Yorkers are suffering. It is Pataki, Bloomberg and Kalikow who should be fined $1 million per day, and who should be jailed for their criminal conspiracy to bust the union, destroy workers' pensions, and create havoc for hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers who cannot get to work and school in the middle of December. Pataki, Bloomberg and Kalikow are using the media to turn worker against worker, and to make transit workers appear as the villains. The real bad guys are hidden by the racist, big business media who echo the lies of the anti-labor politicians. Roger Toussaint and Local 100 have stood up while the bosses and bankers try to put them up against the wall. They deserve our support. Click here for ANSWER updates and flyers on the transit workers' struggle <>


Greetings to Allies and Friends of DRUM:

The past two day have been an exciting moment of NYC history demonstrating the unity & power of working people's struggles for justice!At DRUM, we joined an ad-hoc coalition formed today to take ACTION in solidarity with our sisters and brothers of the Transit Workers Union Local 100.The coalition is called "New York City in Solidarity with Transit Workers" and already is made up of over 20 community and labor groups.

As an organizer of TWU Local 100 expressed to us:

The strategies of the ruling class are to divide the people of NYC from the TWU workers.this is where we come in to show COMMUNITY SOLIDARITY........

The Transit Workers are facing a severe onslaught of repression including the court order enforcing a $1 million fine per day under the Taylor Law, and other possible attacks in the next few days.THIS IS OUR MOMENT AS COMMUNITY MEMBERS TO SHOW OUR SOLIDARITY & ACT!

New York City in Solidarity with Transit Workers is putting up detailed action calls for tomorrow on the blog address above.Some of the actions to stay tuned for by tomorrow morning are:

1.) Phone calls to Bloomberg & Pataki all day

2.) Join a TWU picket of workers near you and help leaflet, take your signs & banners stating your support- See a list of PICKET SITES at
See "Strike Assignments"

3.) IF YOU CAN GET THERE-JOIN THE MARCH OVER BROOKLYN BRIDGE (called by International Action Center) & PRESS CONFERENCE (called by Jobs with Justice) TOMORROW- WEDNESDAY FROM 4 TO 6PM!!!!SHOW UP AT 3:30


4.) Download flyers from the coaltion from the blog & do outreach to help sustain support between the public & TWU workers wherever you are.So, keep checking the BLOG for details on all of the aboce for TOMORROW.

If anyone on this list can put in some work or resources to help DRUM mobilize more support,please call our office at (718) 205-3036

In Strength & Unity with All Workers,
DRUM- Desis Rising Up & Moving*************************

Monami MaulikDRUM -Desis Rising Up & Moving
718-205-3036 /***********************

Wednesday, December 21, 2005


NYC Grassroots Organizations are
joining the fight for Transit Workers Rights!
To keep posted visit our website at:


1. Rallies in solidarity with striking workers, Thursday, December 22
2. Boycott New York Post advertisers; demand criminal investigation of MTA
3. Call MTA and office of George Pataki
4. Possible jailing of TWU leaders--come to court, Thursday, December 22
5. Toussaint to Bloomberg: You are Shaming NYC
6. Online Petition

1. There will be simultaneous rallies in support of the transit workers and their right to strike on Thursday, December 22 on both sides of the Brooklyn Bridge, 4:00 to 6:00 pm. Bring signs, placards and noisemakers and stand with the TWU. More information at (212) 633-6646.

2. The blaring front page headline of the December 21 New York Post called the transit workers "rats". TOPLAB calls on the city's trade unions, the labor community and people of goodwill to initiate a boycott of both the New York Post and any company that advertises in that rag. The real rats are Kalikow, Pataki, Bloomberg and their ilk, not the honest and decent people who do the day-to-day running of our subways and buses. We further hope that labor will issue a call for an independent commission to investigate the MTA, the Governor and the Mayor to determine the extent of State and City malfeasance, impropriety and possible criminal collusion in the handling of the strike and the events leading up to it.


3. Sent by Bill Henning, Vice President, CWA Local 1180
December 21, 2005

This morning TWU Local 100 posted the executive office numbers of the MTA and Governor Pataki--I called both numbers--they're not the usual comment lines but the actual executive offices, and the staffers seemed surprised to receive calls there, which is what we want. Don't let them transfer you to the comment line--tell them what you think.

Please take a moment today to call the numbers below to tell the MTA and the governor that you see the strike as THEIR fault, and that you expect them to give the workers what they demand, protect their pensions, and settle this strike!

MTA: (212) 878-7274
Governor Pataki: (518) 474-7516

Bill Henning
Vice President
CWA Local 1180
6 Harrison St.
New York, NY 10013


4. Sent by Ronald B. McGuire, Esq.
December 21, 2005


The New York Times reports that New York State Supreme Court Judge Theodore Jones has ordered TWU President Roger Toussaint and the top leaders of Local 100 to appear in room 227 of Kings County Supreme Court tomorrow (Thursday) at 11:00 am. The Times reports that Judge Jones said he wants the union leadership in court tomorrow because he is considering sentencing them to jail for calling the strike.

See or


1. COME TO COURT: Room 227 is the biggest court room in Brooklyn. It seats several hundred people. The hearing is open to the public. Kings County Supreme Court is at 360 Adams Street, near Borough Hall. The main entrance is on Court Street at Montague Street. There is another
entrance on Adams Street. The Court is only a few blocks from the Brooklyn Bridge. People coming from Queens, East New York or Bed/Stuy can take the Long Island Railroad to the nearby [Flatbush Ave. stop] Brooklyn Terminal at Atlantic and Flatbush Avenues [one mile walk/bike].

2. COME TO COURT EARLY TO MEET THE PRESS: The media has been crucifying the union and trying to portray the image that the public is against the strike. Tomorrow will be an excellent opportunity to meet the press before the court hearing and make statements of support and solidarity with the strikers and their union and to show the transit workers that they are not in this fight alone.

3. CONTACT ELIOT SPITZER: Attorney General Spitzer is representing the
state in the lawsuit before Judge Jones. According to the Times Spitzer
has not yet said he supports imprisoning the union leadership. Convince
Spitzer that jailing the union leaders will create chaos and make
negotiations impossible. More importantly, tell Spitzer that you will
not vote for him for governor if he does not oppose jailing the union
officials. Spitzer's phone number is (212) 416-8000 and his website URL

In Solidarity,
Ron McGuire


5. Toussaint to Bloomberg: You are Shaming NYC

Transport Workers Union Local 100
December 21, 2005{935B2C90-91BF-46F4-A7A0-26E576FF26B5}&DE={6784669E-BE6F-4F41-A89C-2691ED8E5910}

Statement by Roger Toussaint

Toussaint to Bloomberg: You are Shaming NYC

Yesterday you used your position as Mayor of New York to call us "thuggish"and "selfish." How dare you?

Our children turn on the TV to see the Mayor denouncing their parents as "morally reprehensible." Have you no shame?

As you know better than most, this strike was forced on us by the MTA. You know this because you share much of theblame. It is your provocative rhetoric about what givebacks we transit workers must accept for the next generation of transit--our children and new immigrants--that has pushed our members beyond the limits of their patience.

You all but demanded this confrontation, and now you act angry and surprised. You owe all New Yorkers an apology for poisoning the atmosphere around difficult labor negotiations.

You call us "irresponsible." New York City and New York State have slashed their subsidies for mass transit. Mayors and Governors have created a seemingly permanent Structural Deficit for transit which much be filled by costly borrowing. Wall Street has profited, but Main Streethas suffered. But you knew that already from your previous career. Now that the debt-servicing bill has come due, the MTA demands that we pay the price: worse health care and worse pensions.

But what about our conducting an "illegal" strike? What about the law? You are all over the media with high-minded talkabout "illegal" behavior, castigating criminals and screaming that no one is above the law. Your hypocrisy knows no bounds. You must hope everyone has forgotten your biography: "Bloomberg on Bloomberg." You boast on Page 59 on how you started your rise to great wealth, great enough to enable you to buy the Mayor's office twice. You set up your office "...all without permission, violating every fire law, building code and union regulation on the books."

I guess illegality is in the eye of the beholder. A confessed lawbreakerhas the gall to lecture 34,000 hard working people whose only crime is standing up for their families and for dignity and respect on one of the toughest, most dangerous jobs in New York.

Stop using transit workers as a punching bag to undo decades of pension gains for city workers. Stop demonizing transit workers in the eyes of the public.

Stop bullying and start acting like the Mayor you promised to be.

Theater of the Oppressed Laboratory (TOPLAB)
451 West Street
New York, New York 10014
(212) 924-1858

Hi Friends,

I have just read and signed the petition: "People for TWU Local 100"

In light of the negotiation breakdown between the Mass Transit Authority (MTA) and the members of Transit Workers Union Local 100, the union members are striking for fair wages, sound pensions, and health plans. This strike has shutdown NYC's public transit system, virtually paralyzing NY.

Despite the negative press, the public denouncements from NY's elected officials, and the huge legal penalties imposed on them, the hard-working people are in full support of their efforts.

Please take a moment to read about this important issue, and join me in signing the petition. It takes just 30 seconds, but can truly make a difference. Please sign here:



Stand with NYC's Transit Workers


180th Street Yard: 1151 East 180 Street
239th St. Barn: 4570 Furman Avenue
240th St. Barn: 5911 Broadway
241st St. White Plains Road. (RTO)
242nd St. Yard
Concourse Yard: 3119 Jerome Avenue
Dyer Avenue
Eastchester Depot: Interstate 95 at Exit 13
Gunhill Depot: 1910 Bartow Avenue
Jerome Yard: Jerome Ave. & Van Courtlandt Ave.
Parkchester (RTO)
Pelham Barn/Westchester Sq. Yard: Eastchester Rd. & Water Street
Tiffany Iron: 1170 Oakpoint Avenue
West Farms Depot: 1100 East 177th Street
Woodlawn 1 & 9 Lines (RTO)
Yonkers Depot: 59 Babcock St.
Zerega CMF: 750 Zerega Avenue


370 Jay St./130 Livingston
Atlantic Ave/Bergen Street Shop: 1415 Bergen Street
Bergen St. Shop
Coney Island Yard: Avenue X & McDonald
Cozine: 50 Cozine Avenue
Crosstown-Box St.
East New York Depot/Shop: 1700 Bushwick Avenue
Flatbush Ave / Nostrand (RTO)
Flatbush Depot: Flatbush & Utica Ave.
Jackie Gleason Depot: 871 Fifth Avenue
Linden Shop: 1500 Linden Blvd.
Livonia Shop: 824 Linwood Shop
Pitkin Yard: 1434 Sutter Avenue
Rockaway Parkway Carnarsie L-line
Stillwell Ave.
Ulmer Park Depot: Cropsey Ave. & Bay


71st & Continental G,R & V lines (RTO)
179th St. F-line (RTO)
College Point Depot: 128-15 28th Avenue
Corona Barn: 126-53 Willets Point Blvd.
Ditmars Blvd. N & W lines (RTO)
Fresh Pond Depot: 56-99 Fresh Pond Road
Jamaica Barn: 7815 Grand Central Parkway
Jamaica Depot: 114-15 Guy R. Brewer Blvd.
Main St. 7-line (RTO)
Maspeth CMF:
Parsons / Archer E & J lines (RTO)
Triboro Coach Depot: 8501 24th Avenue
Woodside Electronic Shop: 33-33 54th Street


34th St. - Penn Station *
100th Street Depot: 1552 Lexington Avenue at 100th Street
126th Street Depot: 2460 Second Avenue
148th St. Lenox Ave.
168th St. C Line
207th St. Yard: 3961 10 Avenue
Chambers St. Flagging Quarters (RTO)
Grand Central Station (RTO)
Kingsbridge Depot: 4065 10th Avenue
Manhattanville Depot: 666 West 133rd St.
Michael J. Quill Depot: 525 11th Avenue
West 53rd St Power/RCC: 53rd St. btw 8/9

Subject: Support the transit workers!

If you support the transit workers please send a quick email to the MTA, Governor Pataki and Mayor Bloomberg. They are going to be coming down HARD on the transit workers union for this strike that, however inconvenient and painful it is for all of us, is in the interest of all public employees and workers rights. Yes the strike is illegal, but what then do the workers have to leverage when conditions are unjust? A

They say that they count each letter for the sentiments of 8-10 people so spend the 5 minutes....remember these workers are sacrificing money in their checks for the greater good of future workers.

Send short emails in support of the transit workers to:

Mayor Bloomberg email:
Governor Pataki email:
MTA email:

Subject: Call Pataki & MTA exec offices today!

Hey all,

This morning TWU Local 100 posted the executive office numbers of the MTA and Governor Pataki -- I called both numbers -- they're not the usual comment lines but the actual executive offices, and the staffers seemed surprised to receive calls there, which is what we want. Don't let them transfer you to the comment line -- tell them what you think.

Please take a moment today to call the numbers below to tell the MTA and the governor that you see the strike as THEIR fault, and that you expect them to give the workers what they demand, protect their pensions, and settle this strike!

MTA -- 212-878-7274
Governor Pataki -- 518-474-7516

And please forward this email to friends and colleagues!

.: Why New York City Communities Stand in Solidarity with Transit Workers :.

  • This is a struggle between the working people of New York City, who are majority people of color, and Pataki and Bloomberg who are protecting corporate profits at the expense of our basic rights.
  • The MTA, Pataki and Bloomberg's failing to negotiate in good faith with TWU Local 100 is in accordance with broader attempts on the part of the government to roll back social services and the quality of life for working people and communities of color.
  • The media's portrayal of TWU Local 100’s members and leaders is a clear attempt to racially divide the people of New York.
  • New York City communities of color and working people will not be divided; the struggle of the transit workers is our struggle. TWU Local 100 is fighting for our basic rights as workers for benefits and to strike, and they are our brothers, sisters, neighbors and friends.
  • New York City communities of color and working people wholeheartedly support and commend the members of TWU Local 100 for standing up for justice and the future of labor in New York City.